OPWS loses troops to armed herders in Benue

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By Sunday Ogli, Makurdi

TWO soldiers and one personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, belonging to the military spike operation; Operation Whirl Stroke, OPWS, have paid the supreme price while trying to prevent the sacking of Okokolo community in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State.

Force Commander of OPWS, Maj Gen Sunday Igbinomwanhia who disclosed this in a statement on Saturday, said two other soldiers were wounded and have been evacuated to the Nigerian Air Force hospital in Makurdi.

“On 18 January 2024, troops of Operation Whirl Stroke deployed at Akwu in Agatu LGA of Benue State were alarmed with the presence of people fleeing from Okokolo Community in the same LGA.

“On inquiry, the troops were informed that terrorists suspected to be armed herdsmen were advancing towards the town to attack it. The troops immediately mobilised and proceeded to the community which is about 15 km from their base.

“On arrival, the tproops encountered the bandits carrying out attack on the the community and subsequently engaged the criminals in a gun duel that lasted for three hours.

“The attack was successfully repelled with the terrorists withdrawing in disarray while evacuating their dead and wounded, Gen Igbinomwanhia said.

In a swift reaction to the gallantry exhibited by the troops of OPWS, the state governor, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia represented by his deputy, Barr Sam Ode and the Force Commander, OPWS, visited the troops on 19 January 2024 during which the governor commiserated with troops of Sector 5 OPWS and the entire OPWS troops.

They were received by the Chairman Agatu LGA, Hon Yakubu Ochepo and the traditional rulers of the communities in the LGA.

Gov Alia assured the Joint Task Force of the continual support of the State Government and promised to assist in the treatment of the wounded.

The Force Commander of OPWS also commended the troops and encouraged them to put the setback of the loss of their colleagues behind and remain focused on the mission of ridding the Joint Operations Area of the Force of all criminality.

Gen Igbinomwanhia also used the opportunity to intimate the troops of the support of the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS in the conduct of their operations.

The troops were also informed of the speedy recovery of the wounded soldiers taken to the hospital as a result of the incidence.

He assured the governor of the commitment of the Force to continue to carry out the mandate and mission of the Force as aptly directed by the CDS for the security of life and properties in the Force Joint Operations Area.

He noted that further operations are already on to track the assailants to their hideout.